Gestures for Miller Indices
At the conclusion of this exercise, students will be able to use gestures to communicate about crystallographic axes and Miller Indices.
Context for Use
This exercise follows a short lecture on axial ratios and Miller Indices and an assignment to determine Miller Indices of forms on wooden blocks, in an undergraduate Mineralogy course. It is intended to give students practice using Miller Indices to communicate about the orientations of crystal faces.
Description and Teaching Materials
In this exercise, students use one hand to gesture crystallographic axes and the other hand to represent planes designated by Miller Indices. This uses embodied learning to reinforce how Miller Indices are used to convey spatial information.
Student handout for Miller Indices gesture exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 487kB Mar11 13)
I walk around the room and verbally quiz students as they are doing the exercise to assess their understanding. Students should be able to relate Miller Indices to planes on a crystal.
References and Resources
Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2011). Learning Through Gesture. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, v. 2, n. 6, pp. 595–607.
Using Gesture to Support Spatial Thinking highlights the value of gesture in communicating spatial information. It consists of two short exercises, and can be used in preparation for any other exercise in which students will be asked to use gesture to communicate spatial information.